A "warmist" scientist embraces the Heartland Conference

Dr. Scott Denning

As many know, I recently returned from ICCC4. It has taken me a couple of days to get back on track and I want to share over the next couple of days, some of the things I saw there.

One thing I witnessed was a story of courage and of professionalism in the face of adversity. As many know, Heartland formally invited many scientists and scholars who are AGW proponents from the other side of the aisle.

This has been done for every conference since the first one in 2008.

James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the sponsoring Heartland Institute and the person who recruited all of the 70-plus presenters Including yours truly) at the May 16-18 conference, said this about the invitations:

“I personally and cordially invited literally dozens of high-profile scientists who disagree with our speakers, including Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Michael Mann, Phil Jones, William  Schlesinger, and many others,” Taylor said. “I planned to give each side equal time at the conference.

Regrettably – and predictably – only two ‘warmists’ accepted my invitation to participate: Scott Denning of Colorado State University and Tam Hunt, a consultant on renewable energy and a lecturer at UC Santa Barbara’s School of Environmental Science & Management.”

All others declined, nearly all of them cordially.

Scott Denning was warmly and respectfully received, leading him to request a second opportunity to address the audience. He was granted that opportunity at the May 18 closing luncheon that I attended, where he said,

I want to thank you very much for inviting me to this conference. I have to say that I’ve learned a lot here. It was very gracious of [Heartland Institute Senior Fellow] James [Taylor] and of the organizers to bring me here. And I actually feel that it’s really too bad that more of my colleagues from the scientific community didn’t attend and haven’t in the past, and I hope that we can remedy that in the future.

Denning’s remarks, with the applause he received throughout, can be seen on the YouTube video below. It is well worth watching because it illustrates the mood of the conference well.

Many scientists missed a chance to bridge the gap, and it is sad for them that they choose to keep the wall up, rather than participate in discourse and debate. Maybe Scott Denning’s courageous example will lead to more attendees next year.

Videos of all presentations from the two-and-a-half-day conference are being posted on the Web site of the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change.

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J.Hansford

I don’t mind being gracious…. Just so long as Science is the focus.

jcrabb

He says he is not a warmist.

Paul Daniel Ash

Why do you call him a “warmist” when he says – flatly – in the video you posted, “I am not a warmist?” It seems odd.
REPLY: Humor on that very point he made, note the quote marks. -A

Ray

This is exactly what I always thought… the way that the universe works is independent of how we think it works. And I think that the majority of true scientists think that. Unfortunately, some people will try to make people believe in their (wrong) way of thinking, on how the universe works.

Nice guy! Can’t help thinking that a lot of what we know about what’s gone on before – RealClimate’s adversarial mindset for example – is either news to, or lost on Scott. What he says is entirely right with regard to opening the debate and dropping the “them vs us” attitude, but he doesn’t realise that when he says this he’s actually facing the choir square on.
Top bloke.

Why don’t people get the “warmist” jest? Is SOH on lunch?

Rhoda R

What he calls himself is not an issue, it is what he is advocating.

Phil's Dad

jcrabb, Paul Daniel Ash; In the same way this is not a “denialist” site and those who post here are not “denialists”. It seems just as odd that there are those who still use that label. On the strength of this post it seems both he and we are nothing more or less than seekers after the truth.

Curiousgeorge

Next up on the scientific front: Artificial DNA to create carbon gobbling bacteria. Does anyone see a potential problem with this concept? I know I’d like to keep the 18% of me that is carbon. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm
“If we can really get cells to do the production that we want, they could help wean us off oil and reverse some of the damage to the environment by capturing carbon dioxide.”

IAD

Clearly he’s (Watt) being sarcastic.

It was very positive that he both asked to and was encouraged to speak at the final lunch and he made some really good points.
There is a danger of a void in the middle ground (between warmists and skeptics, for want of better terms). Looking at conflict resolution, the importance of neutral language and non-emotive language cannot be overstated. Perhaps we need to develop some new terms. If we have a battleground, is there a reluctance to be in the ‘no man’s land’ in the middle? Or is it just that those with the loudest voices shout from the back of the battlelines?

I agree that this guy was a very stand up guy.
I do see a problem that needs to be watched for though when you allow these opponents into the society. They are primarily very progressive people in general, and progressives have a tendency to work towards infiltrating with one or two people into the leadership of such endeavors. Once they have these one or two token progressives in the leadership, they work diligently to shut out everyone else and increase their numbers. They did this with the UN., Education, Foundations and so forth. You have to make certain that ideologues of the progressive persuasion are not allowed at any level of the leadership, or it will be a short 5 years before your organization will resemble the UN IPCC.

Denning strikes me as kinda nieve and so vunerable. He is like a priest going to a meeting of agnostics, not realising that so many of his fellow priests are, at some level, agnostic too. As Linzen reminds us, the science hangs on a thread of positive feedback on CO2 warming. And no one wants to discuss this. And there are some many strategies to avoid discussing it. Because such a discussion threatens the whole popular funding base for the cloister. Only a very few doomsayers prophets need lead with statements of ‘99% certainty,’ immanent collapse of greenland ice etc. Only a few need doctoring the temp stats. How many times do you see a scientist say “well, while this research of mine does not point to AGW, there is still all the other masses of evidence.” They dont want to know, or they dont want to ask…that there are no such masses. Look at Denning’s CV. He is not doing the propaganda. And its probably great research he is doing. But this research surely benefits from huge funding surge since folks like Schneider started pushing the panic buttons in the 1970s. It’s like Denning doesnt get it. It’s like he is looking for the extra-biblical evidence for the various and contradictory biblical accounts of Jesus, not realisng, as many believers will tell him, that that’s not what it is really about.

JAE

Well, I think this is interesting, but this statement is disturbing:
“And I actually feel that it’s really too bad that more of my colleagues from the scientific community… ”
Just who the heck did he think he was addressing? The “non-scientific community?”
Being a graduate of CSU, however, I will give him the benefit of doubt….

Steve in SC

Reminds me of the Nixon “I am not a crook” speech.
He is a warmist make no mistake.
Despite the conciliatory tone he references solutions to climate issues.
Have the courage to do nothing.

rbateman

Curiousgeorge says:
May 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm
Yes, I saw the report of the ‘historic’ achievement on the news.
They took the DNA out of a cell and inserted chemically engineered DNA.
There are enough problems with invasive species of plants and animals getting spread around the globe without adding computer generatedl life forms to Earth. They have crossed the line.
I defer to Steven Hawking’s take on Alien Life Forms.

I found one comment from Professor Denning rather difficult to understand. Perhaps it arose from his earlier involvement in the conference and the context has evaded me. He said what was missing from the debate was “constructive solutions that come from the political faction, or whatever we want to call it, that’s represented in this room”.
Leaving aside liquids, one can only have a solution if there is a problem. Those who don’t believe something to be a problem are unlikely to offer a solution. In a highly politicised field offering a solution on the basis: “if you’re right, this is what I’d suggest”, is a hostage to fortune and will be treated by some as acknowledgment of the problem.
Professor Denning expressly recognised that both sides of the AGW debate are highly politicised and I think that means he is asking for the impossible.
If the debate extends wider and looks at oil and gas usage as a problem because the raw products are becoming more expensive to extract and are supplied by some pretty unreliable countries, then solutions are offered aplenty from all political hues.

Steve in SC

Well said Fat Bigot.

Ben U.

Re: remarks by astonerii. “Progressive” is coming predictably into increased use but we should instead call them “progressivist.” All the same they’re often reactionary.

Mike Davis

His publication record will provide evidence of his views no matter what he said! Just like others who want to offer an Olive Branch that stand behind their past work.

Ben U.,
How about plain old “Liberal.” That’s what they are.
A communist is just a socialist in a hurry, and a socialist is just a liberal in a hurry. They all want to take what you’ve got, and own you.

DeNihilist

Do you know if Prof. Curry was invited?

Anyone who has spent the last few winters in Fort Collins is going to have a very tough time believing that the world is warming out of control.

Doug in Seattle

Before this debate is settled it has to address what is at its core – the precautionary principle.
Until this is done, the lack of evidence in support of the AGW premise and the abundance of contradictory evidence that refutes it will continue to be dismissed.

Al Gored

rbateman says:
May 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm
Curiousgeorge says:
May 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm
Yes, I saw the report of the ‘historic’ achievement on the news.
They took the DNA out of a cell and inserted chemically engineered DNA.
There are enough problems with invasive species of plants and animals getting spread around the globe without adding computer generatedl life forms to Earth. They have crossed the line.
———-
Agree. Scariest thing yet. Scientific hubris gone totally overboard, with potential consequences too horrifying to ponder.
[REPLY – Or wonderful. It’s too soon to tell. ~ Evan]

R. Gates

Could someone here please define “warmist”. I doesn’t seem to be in the dictionary, (duh), and as near as I can tell, Scott Denning certainly believes in the GH properties of CO2, but he says he is not a warmist, so who the [self-snip] are these “warmists”?

An Inquirer

Regarding solutions coming from the skeptic side, here is one that I could live with:
Instituting a tax on carbon with the revenues offsetting another tax. I would be happy with a tax on carbon for a variety of reasons — it is a tax on consumption; it is widespread and therefore would make more voters tax conscious. For the tax to be replaced, I could be happy with either one of the following: corporate income tax or part of the social security tax. The corporate income tax is double taxation that causes a wide variety of inefficient (and risky) maneuvers to avoid it. On the other hand, if we could use carbon tax revenues to enable private accounts in Social Security, that would be fantastic. (Safeguards could be established in the private accounts – such as half in gov’t bonds.) The advantages of private accounts are far too numerous to list in this post. I hope this is the type of solution that Mr. Denning has in mind – it satisfies those concerned about AGW at the same time increases efficiency and proper motivation in the economic system. Of course, the big problem is the political tendency to add taxes rather than replace taxes.

pyromancer76

Sorry, Smokey. I have great respect and gratitude for all your contributions — except this last one at 8:39: “‘Ben U.,
How about plain old “Liberal.” That’s what they are.’
A communist is just a socialist in a hurry, and a socialist is just a liberal in a hurry. They all want to take what you’ve got, and own you.”
So-called Conservatives forget that they have as much authoritarianism in them as do (classical) liberals. Each founding American perspective — Liberal and Conservative — viewpoint has needed the other to remind them when they get too full of themselves. Today we do not have a problem with “progressives” but with those who are out-and-out totalitarians — marxists-islamists-fascists-statists. This situation is of a different quality and very serious.
Astonerii (7:23) has them pegged and shows the problems with the hail-fellow-well-met or he’s a good “person” back-slapping jollity: “I agree that this guy was a very stand up guy. I do see a problem that needs to be watched for though when you allow these opponents into the society. They are primarily very progressive people in general, and progressives have a tendency to work towards infiltrating with one or two people into the leadership of such endeavors. Once they have these one or two token progressives in the leadership, they work diligently to shut out everyone else and increase their numbers.”
All we need is the science, from whatever perspective — warmist, denialist, skeptic. Just prove the science. And quit the fraud. I wish Steve McIntyre had not been so “forgiving” for all the years of hours he had to spend to try to see what the science was that was keeping out all other perspectives — and helping these authoritarians make a move toward global government by their elitist selves. When it isn’t science, then the issues becomes very serious indeed.

D. King

He cautions us about falling into a, “us verses them
paranoid point of view.”
Thanks!

savethesharks

R. Gates says:
May 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm
Could someone here please define “warmist”.
=============================
You.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

D. King

versus…Sorry

astonerii says:
May 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Once they have these one or two token progressives in the leadership, they work diligently to shut out everyone else and increase their numbers. They did this with the UN., Education, Foundations and so forth.
The UN was founded by socialists, they didn’t need to infiltrate it.

Martin Lewitt

While there is no evidence that AGW is currently an issue that justifies the expense of a “solution”, the free market community would probably be receptive to a revenue neutral tax on imported oil, or petroleum products in general, even without AGW as an issue. The national security risks of dependency on foreign energy supply and policing the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are externalities, i.e., costs associated with oil, but not reflected in its price. Politically, it should be revenue neutral, because this government already is spending and taxing too much. The question becomes, do those claiming that there is an important climate justification really want a tax like this that would have price effects that would reduce consumption enough to reduce taxes elsewhere, or are they just wanting to enrich the government with more revenue and power to implement social policies and control the economy.

Fred

I appreciate Scott Denning’s participation, yet I think he may have injured himself when he said:
“I’m an American and I believe in free enterprise and free markets”. Sadly, most of the warmists are socialists or even marxists.
Hope he won’t be black-balled from now on.

Lowell

There is a real simple solution to get more of the warming crowd to the Heartland Conference. Starting a couple months before announce a list of “banned” speakers from the conference. Get some of the proxy talking heads on the cable networks excited about why Gavin and his fellow travelers can’t go and speak. Stick to your guns for awhile and then relent with lots of arm waving and saying, “we were forced by the liberal media to allow these warmists into our conference”. Everybody wins except the dorks on msnbc. Make sure you keep banning somebody for 4-5 years before everybody realizes its all a ruse. But by then its too late and you win

UK Sceptic

Dr Denning seems to be a small chink in the suit of armour the other warmists are frantically trying to reinforce. Let’s hope the rust of reason sets in.

Al Gored

REPLY – Or wonderful. It’s too soon to tell. ~ Evan.
Yes, I heard them talking about ‘cleaning up the environment’ or ‘curing diseases’ and all those wonderful things. The latter at least seems to have some potential. The former is so fraught with huge risks that it simply doesn’t. I’m suddenly thinking of new and improved cane toads.
Problem is, by the time we find out, the cat could be out of the bag, and it could potentially be one very big mutant cat. Or more likely zillions of microbe-sized ones, reproducing with no predators or natural control. To borrow the favourite word of the AGW gang, since it seems to fit here, it could be truly catastrophic.
But, really, silly me… what could possibly go wrong? We’ll get the UN to watch over it. And only use peer reviewed research. And this time Big Pharma will be saints. And there won’t be any accidents or unintended consequences or unknown feedbacks.
Sorry, Evan, but I just don’t think the potential risks are worth the potential rewards. Not that what I think matters. There’s big bucks to be made here and there’s no probably no stopping it.
So, I hope you are right.

Rhoda R says:
May 20, 2010 at 6:51 pm

What he calls himself is not an issue, it is what he is advocating.

I missed his main talk, in his comments at the lunch he pointed out the overlap of interests, noting that everyone there was interested in learning how the world works. The data he sees tells him one thing, the data we see tells us something else. That’s fine, that’s how science works and it’s what focuses people on the key points.

DeNihilist says:
May 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm
Do you know if Prof. Curry was invited?
She wasn’t there, as far as I know. I was a bit disappointed, as I share her concern about what has happened to respect for the scientific method.
If I go next year, I’ll encourage her to go too.

Larry Fields

An Inquirer says:
May 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm
“Regarding solutions coming from the skeptic side, here is one that I could live with:
Instituting a tax on carbon with the revenues offsetting another tax. I would be happy with a tax on carbon for a variety of reasons — it is a tax on consumption; it is widespread and therefore would make more voters tax conscious.”
Granted, a carbon sin tax would involve considerably less bureaucracy and considerably less corporate welfare than an Emissions Trading Scheme. But from an energy economics perspective, there’s a fly in the carbon-tax ointment. How so?
First point. Compared with coal, a smaller proportion of petrol BTUs come from carbon. The rest comes from hydrogen; hence the term hydrocarbon.
Second point. World coal reserves are much larger than reserves of easily-and-cheaply-extracted oil. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. And Australia is the Kuwait of coal. In the intermediate term, oil prices will increase much faster than coal prices, because we’ll need to spend a lot more money drilling into hard-to-reach deep oil deposits in places like North Dakota. And we may need to sign lopsided PSAs in order to get the benefit of advanced Russian drilling technology. In light of the current BP oil spill, we may also need to give up on drilling in mile-deep water, until it can be done more safely.
Combining the two points, a carbon sin tax would create a smaller incentive to conserve the scarcer resource, oil, and a larger incentive to conserve the more abundant resource, coal.
The human race would get more overall utility from our finite energy resources if we used them more efficiently. As compared with a carbon sin tax, increasing the petrol sin tax to a comparably onerous level would be more effective in promoting this goal.
The extra revenue from either sin tax could be earmarked for transportation. In addition to highway maintenance everywhere–and bridge maintenance in Minneapolis–this should include things like purchasing easements for light rail, laying of track, and extra security at Park-and-Rides.

dicktater

Also from the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change but not available in their collection of videos:
New Ice Age ‘to begin in 2014’
May 17, 2010
CHICAGO – A new “Little Ice Age” could begin in just four years, predicted Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of space research at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia.
Abdussamatov was speaking yesterday at the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago, which began Sunday and ends today.
The Little Ice Age, which occurred after an era known in scientific circles as the Medieval Warm Period, is typically defined as a period of about 200 years, beginning around 1650 and extending through 1850.
In the first of a two-part video WND recorded at the conference, Abdussamatov explained that average annual sun activity has experienced an accelerated decrease since the 1990s. In 2005-2008, he said, the earth reached the maximum of the recent observed global-warming trend.
More:
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=155225
Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov, Head of Space Research Laboratory at the Pulkovo Observatory and Head of the Russian-Ukranian project Astrometria on the Russian Segment of the International Space Station. Based on analysis of sun spot activity predicts coming of a new Little Ice Age. Heartland Institute Fourth International Climate Conference, Chicago, Illinois, Monday, May 17, 2010.
Part 1 of Abdussamatov’s speech

Part 2 of Abdussamatov’s speech

James Sexton

[REPLY – Or wonderful. It’s too soon to tell. ~ Evan]
By all means!!!! Surely, we haven’t seen enough of unintended consequences. We should have more. I can almost bare more, but not quite. It is insipidly stupid to charge ahead with things we haven’t even the remote grasp of the consequences. No one seems to ask, “just because we can, does that mean we should?”. With the current progression of man’s abilities, there isn’t much we can’t do, but it has always been that way. Oddly, we’ve never learned the well known lesson of Pandora’s box. Hope and Redemption is all that is left. I wouldn’t risk Redemption in favor of hope. It’s a bad bet.

conradg

It seems there are crazy ideologues on both sides of this debate. Crazy, idealistic progressives who blindly take the word of scientists whose careers have been built on catastrophic predictions, and crazy, idealist conservatives who are skeptics simply because progressives are on the opposite side of the fence.
I’m a liberal, progressive democrat, and quite a strong skeptic. Can we please keep all that tea party trash talking out of here? This is supposed to be about science, not liberal-bashing. There are plenty of conservatives who take the skeptic side for all the wrong reasons, and think progressives take up the AGW cause purely for cynical and sininster reasons, which is simply not the case. Most progressives actually believe the stuff scientists tell them, because they don’t know science very well, and then they take the very sensible position that something must be done about it, and governments need to step in. If the AGW science were right, then that would be the right course of action to take. So the fault is not with the progressives, as far as I can see, but with the scientific community which has fallen into a self-created logic loop they can’t seem to get out of yet.

R. Craigen

I also wondered about Dr. Curry.
I have a suggestion to all who have academic or scientific professional status: Make a project of some person on the alarmist side with whom you have some professional contact and insist that they attend ICCC5, and put up or shut up on the matter of “engaging” critics. These guys, for example, would like to be regarded as “embracers of dialog”, as

the two main researchers heading up the $35-million project say one of their first tasks is to deal with those who claim man-made climate change is a bunch of hooey.

But then they also say

“There is still a lot of unknowns,” said Søren Rysgaard, head of the Greenland Climate Research Centre at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. “If people think that everything is known about climate, they’re totally wrong. There is a lot of things we don’t know.”

and

“I avoid getting into scientific debates with people who aren’t scientific. I can meet somebody who says, ‘You know what? The Earth is only 6,000 years old. Some people firmly believe that. I do not. I deal with what I believe is the real situation and I try to inform the public about that.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get these guys to come out?

Duster

#
pyromancer76 says:
… When it isn’t science, then the issues becomes very serious indeed.
The issue has always been the science and only science can clear it up. That will take real work, consistent data collection and analysis, and some serious theoretical work, once that is well developed there may actually be a few scientists out there who actually have a productive idea of how climate works, or if the idea is even a useful one scientifically.
The PROBLEM is politicians, “activists,” and ambulance-chasing lawyers, especially lawyers, who push “issues.” It reasonable that many AGW theorists are perfectly sincere and perfectly sure that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Every stripe of politician, and their priests, pastors and bishops too, seem to have been assuring us of this for decades. Humanity has always had a fascination with apocalypse and as one fades there are always individuals in the wings ready to serve up a new one. Consider revolvers, semiautomatic pistols, DDT, silicon implants, the coming ice age, deforestation, asbestos, lead paint, carbon cap and trade, and the myriad other non-problems that have marked the last 150 years alone. This doesn’t count the religious fringes and their repeated and repeated and repeated apocalyptic expectations, just secular apocalypses.
Also, note that most of these are not serious in any real, human experiential terms. People make them ideologically serious, regardless of facts, real science and knowledge. Not even carbon taxes, stupid and meaningless as they are, are really going to produce an apocalypse any more than AGW would or has.

toby

Calling him a “warmist” when he insists he is not does not show much respect.

Don’t forget to check out Scott Denning’s excellent slides:
http://www.heartland.org/events/2010Chicago/PowerPoints/Scott_Denning.ppt
This link would have been worthwhile to be highlighted in the main post imho.

Michael in Sydney

Al Gored Said, “…with potential consequences too horrifying to ponder.”
Isn’t that like the precautionary principle mixed with “It’s worse than we thought” that gives many of us the Tom Tits.
Michael

Alan the Brit

Seems a genuine guy & came across as sincere. Perhaps understandably whilst pointing out the issues of political agenda in the science he apparently observed at the Heartland Conference, he avoided high-lighting the “political agendum” of the “warmist” side of the non-debate that has taken place for almost 20 years of settled science! We all want to see world hunger, poverty, & depravation solved, the issues are how one goes about it, but for me at least, a Marxist Socialist Global Goverenment that would be unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable, & rather more importantly, unsackable, that would as is the Socialist want, IMPOSE its will upon one & all (except of course the self-promoting, self-enriching, venal, mendacious, politcal classes, clique & claque), is NOT the way forward! I can’t stand people who claim they know what’s best for me & mine. Woops, didn’t wish to let my magnanimity show through quite so much. Sarc off!

Molly